Onekama Vaulters Fogarty, Brown look to finish strong

by Dylan Savela, Manistee News Advocate
Posted April 3, 2012

Tyler Fogarty was quick to correct himself, but who could blame him for the Freudian slip?

At a recent track and field practice, the Onekama senior recalled his “four” years of experience at the Division 4 state finals, despite having only been there thrice. But perhaps it was just a bit of accidental foresight.

“Wait, I’ve been there three times,” he said with a laugh, after explaining how four previous trips to the finals would help heading into his senior season. “I hope to make it four, though.”

For Fogarty and fellow senior Jaylee Brown, pole vaulting at the highest level has been essentially automatic. Each has competed at the finals for the past three seasons, and each expect to make it four for four.

“I think since (qualifying for the finals the first time), that’s the goal every year,” said Brown, who’s medaled in each of her appearances. “You just want to get back (to state) in everything you were before. I’ve been working on it all winter, so I’m good to go.”

Despite suffering injuries the past two years, Brown managed to still vault at a high level, placing sixth at state last season after taking fourth in both her sophomore and freshman campaigns. And with her back healed, she’s raising the bar, so to speak, on her expectations.

“I want to be first in (the West Michigan D League),” she said, “and I’m going to shoot for top-four in state again.”

Brown also said she hopes to leap 10-foot-6 this season, which would eclipse her own school-record mark of 10-3.

Onekama girls coach Bonnie Brown has high expectations as well, for both Jaylee and the team as a whole. The Portagers will look to build off last year’s regional championship, while Brown looks to cap an already successful prep career with another trip to the finals. Their coach expects the same formula to be followed.

“You always have to work to get back to where you were,” Bonnie Brown said. “Sometimes the thought is you can pick up where you left off, but these girls know there’s a lot of work to do.”

Fogarty also has his goals set for a potential return trip to Jenison on Saturday, June 2, for the Division 4 finals.

Fogarty medaled once in three trips by placing seventh his sophomore season. He was the top freshman vaulter in his first appearance, and despite being seeded 24th heading into last year’s finals, Fogarty finished 10th.

“I’ve ranged around the top 10, so I guess the goal now would be top three or four,” Fogarty said, citing that the height he wants to hit is 13 feet. “I’ve got a good feeling about it this year.”

Portager boys coach Anthony Torres echoed Brown’s sentiments when talking about his team. Both coaches believe they have one of the more well-rounded squads to date, with many of the disciplines covered by a plethora of sprinters and distance runners. Pole vaulting, however, has obviously been a consistent strong suit of Onekama’s during Fogarty and Jaylee Brown’s tenure, and looks to be again. But Torres said the experience they bring to the table shouldn’t be overlooked either.

“The kids that have been (to state) all three years so far is huge” he said. “To have them on the team — Serving Onekama School since 1997